I do not know if this story is about a woman’s love for her possum, or how I get in trouble opening my big mouth. This may even be about the grammatical usage of “opossum” verses “possum.”
Being on the road and a stranger to a place makes you get simple when sitting in a bar and meeting two women. One who lived near where you grew up and the other who came from a small town on the other side of the country that a close friend used to talk about. Lots of relatable ground and fun once the lemon drop shots began pouring by the bartender.
I’m in a bar in Crystal River, home of the Manatee that tourist want to swim and frolic with in the warm springs of the Gulf. I’m getting used to the strangeness and friendliness here. The population is thirty-three hundred and had been decreasing till El Brookman showed up. I always buy a drink and keep it in front of the seat next to me at the bar so I can keep the riffraff away. I offered the seat to them because it was crowded, explaining why no one was sitting there and they were immediately taken by my quirkiness, charm, and handsomeness. I know, I have an ego and cockiness larger than the Manatee.
I find out both women work at an animal clinic near where I am currently living in Pine Ridge. I believe one woman has taken Lea out because a possum she rescued died earlier in the day and needed to party away her grieving. I know, I know, grieving over a possum that is associated with road kill only made me believe there is a Pulitzer Prize story here.
She is known as the “possum lady.” She has a pet possum named Barley who has his own Facebook page and if Lea wasn’t so cute I would have curtailed my listening. But every time she spoke about Barley for five minutes, she continued to smile at me and say; “Let’s do a shot!”
Then came the question she asked me; “What do you do?”
I usually make something up, but her love for that possum made me blurt the truth out; “I write.”
Like Mother Theresa twisting your arm and manipulating funding for the poor she says; “I would like for you to come to the animal clinic on Monday and see Barley and write a story about him.”
My first thought was, that there would only be a story in this if she had sex with me and Barley jumped in bed and ate my penis. It really is a perfect story to hit the AP wire about a man in Florida, (where all crazy stories in America come from) chasing after a possum running away with my penis in his mouth. My next thought was about journalists who put on flak jackets and looked the part of reporting from a war zone. I don’t have body protection and am going nowhere near Barley.
Then she said again; “Let’s have a shot!”
I agreed to write a story, but lied that I would be coming to the clinic. I knew I could write this later at my house, which I’m doing now from information gathered while drinking and shooting pool with her. Falling prey to her seductions to get a story out of me is one thing, but I was not about to let a possum seduce me.
I had to look up the correct term. Is it “opossum” or “possum?” I immediately was reminded of the Owl and the Pussy Cat poem where the owl says;
“O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”
Maybe you can just throw an “O” in front of anything.
One side note. My brother got suspended for reading this children’s poem in sixth grade catholic school before a nun and the rest of the class and emphasizing the word “Pussy” with passion.
The answer is that the term possum covers about 70 species of marsupials native to Australia and surrounding islands. Opossum covers over 100 species of marsupials living in the Western Hemisphere. Opossums are often referred to colloquially as possums (or ‘possums), but in scientific contexts, possum and opossum refer to different groups of animals. However, possum is short for Opossum and can be used as well. So the answer is that it doesn’t matter because they both taste the same and thank god the pilgrims found the turkey before the possum.
So after the sixth lemon drop shooter, and second game of pool, I asked Lea about the life span of the possum. She said three to five years and Barley is a young and healthy two year old.
I asked Lea what happens if somehow Barley becomes famous and you go on the late night talk show circuit, get a TV reality show? You will need at least seven Barleys like there were more than seven Lassies.
“Don’t worry about it, just make Barley famous….Let’s do a shot;” she said.
I mean Barley is already famous. He has his own calendar. He is the official team mascot for a youth triathlon team, Force Multisport…has over 1200 Facebook friends, worshipped and adored by children and sensitive adults everywhere and has a cute blonde for a groupie to tend his every need….what more could a possum want from life?
Yeah, I know, a writer who will create some words about Barley, and Lea.
“O Pussy” is now immortal in children’s literature and sounds more lyric than “O Possum,” but I guess there are already too many cat ladies and cat lovers in this world and this is so different. You just might have your heart warmed and tugged at by checking them out. There is something lyric and pure poetry about Lea’s love and tenderness for Barley.
“O lovely Possum, O Possum, my love.”
go friend them on Facebook to follow Barley and his mother Lea.